The Frustration of Running a Government Entity
Submitted by Roslyn Stanherd
The Public Service (Appointments) Act 2020 has passed and appointments are being made across the public service and I assume statutory bodies. Like Michelle M. Russell in her article ‘Good move for Public servants’ in the Sunday Sun of 4 October 2020, I too am concerned about section 6(1) of the Public Service Act which makes certain employees ineligible for appointment in that I believe it can be punitive. Though it is not a situation I now face, it forms a thread in my work history and is the final catalyst that caused the offering of details about my move to retirement.
Micromanagement at my former work place resulted in my raising concerns about the tone on top with my final position being offense is taken not given. Suspension was swift with the charge that I was undermining the Committee. It took two (2) years to offer evidence of the same. Rather than follow through with what is known to be a long process, I accepted early pension and gratuity whose receipt was dependent on my signing a release not to sue the Committee. This Committee had had to abort the first meeting after being told it could not be both prosecutor and judge. The accusations are as follows:
- You abused your position as a regular attendee at the meetings of the Committee, and as such, a person privy to its deliberations, to disseminate by email to all staff of the Committee, misinformation of a serious nature which was calculated to undermine or likely to undermine, the authority of the Committee.
…As the Head who reported directly to the Committee, my job was to manage the entity. The Secretary in Attendance only disseminated information from the Committee meetings. My email spoke ONLY to my limitations about managing the same.
- That your action at that time was the most recent in a series of actions which demonstrate your disrespect for, and complete disregard of, the authority of the Committee. The investigation revealed:
- That between…. you brought in general circulation, for spending $M in matured securities without notice to the Committee and without regard for the Committee’s statutory responsible to re-invest securities for the proper maintenance and management of the investment portfolio. The amount comprised approximately 2/3 of investments, thereby compromising the Committee’s ability to properly discharge its statutory mandate.
…The Finance Manager’s projections showed that the entity’s inability to sell its government instrument on the secondary market meant even with the matured securities, there was insufficient funds to meet expected demand. In keeping with standard operating procedure, matured investments were kept to meet demand as the Committee explored means of sourcing additional funds.
- That, over time, you have undertaken the recruitment of persons to fill key staff positions, including the hiring of a temporary Legal Officer in the latter part of … without the approval of, or even notice to, the Committee. Further, having been instructed by the Committee, at its meeting, that future staffing issues should be brought to the attention of the Committee, or to the Chairman in situations of urgency, you sought recourse outside of the Committee, … without further reference to the Committee, in circumstances where you were not in agreement with the Committee’s decision on staffing matters, made in your presence, at the meeting of…
…Prior to the Committee’s changed position, precedent allowed the Head of the entity who was also the Personnel Officer to hire temporary staff without prior recourse to the Committee. The urgency to acquire the services of Legal officer resulted from the expansive change in the entity’s scope of operations, the unprecedented demand for loans during the peak loan demand period and the incumbent’s extended leave.
… In the midst of an expanded mandate the Committee was now reverting to operating as a public service entity. Guidance was necessary. The decision to seek the same from the first person to ever guide my management of this entity as well as to inform the Committee of the same was not ultra vires.
- That the tone of your correspondence to, and interaction with, the Committee and your conduct at Committee meetings are far from respectful, or professional, which was drawn to your attention in a letter to you, from the Committee on … Despite the Committee’s representations, you persisted with this conduct to such a degree to warrant a reminder from the Chairman at the Meeting of the Committee on …, that you should amend your behavior.
…The written reprimand was outside of the one (1) year band that counts towards the three (3) strike grievance procedure. What is ignored here was that a) the Committee members had minimal if any finance/banking knowledge/experience and their comfort zone was to focused on the minutiae attached to procedures rather than on policy; b) members blanked concerns and requests for guidance opting instead to confer with juniors; c) I was exhausted from managing several structural changes as Head as well as Personnel Officer, Personal Assistant/Secretary, and at a point in time as sole manager along with overseeing the completion of 15 audited financial statements; d) there had been a reversal of the entities fortune; e) the entity was well managed as reported to the Committee during its monthly meetings; and f) there was no defalcation.
- That your less than professional attitude has proven to be disruptive of the day-to-day operations of the Committee. By your own admission, you have clashed with almost every staff member of the … and, in …, for the protection of the operations of the entity and the Committee, the intervention of the Committee was required to manage a breakdown in the communication flow between yourself and the Internal Auditor, who had been deliberately excluded by you from the operational meetings, and thereby cut off from access to information crucial to the smooth running of the entity.
… I functioned as Human Resource Officer which required coaching and counselling staff members, ensuring their work targets were fair and their quarterly performance appraisals were completed in a timely fashion with an absent of rancour. My focus to remove the ‘passing of the buck’ mentality meant I clashed with most staff members but no one is indispensable so my plan was for a smooth succession which happened. Hence staff members worked in different sections of the entity, were supported via training and studies and in all instances encouraged to enhance their skills.
… Internal Auditors do not participate in operational activities which they audit.
Despite the debacle surrounding the ending of my tenure, I sought to maintain respect for my superiors by not voicing/showing their overt victimization. I am sure my actions disappointed my representative. It was not cowardice on my part but the reality that one might lose one’s sanity and money dealing with a clique that enjoyed bullying and revelled in the minutiae.
I was also bored with the matter, wanted and found new interest dealing with lawyers which is another story to tell.